Holla Mohalla is the festival of Punjab. It is celebrated over three days and retains the character of fun and enjoyment that Holi has always embodied. In addition to that, it is also a community festival that brings people together in an atmosphere of sharing and caring. It is also an occasion to remember the valour of the Sikhs in battling the enemies of the land. The festival day begins with early morning prayers at the gurudwaras. The Guru Granth Sahib is ceremoniously taken out and bathed ritually with milk and water. After that, it is placed on the platform and venerated.
Kirtans are sung and people perform kar seva. The prasad is consecrated and everyone partakes of it. After the service, community lunch is served at the common hall.
Evening is the time for cultural activities. The Nihang Sikhs, who are part of the Sikh army that Guru Gobind Singh founded, exhibit their martial skills and daring through mock battles, sword-fighting displays, archery and horse-riding exercises. The Nihangs also splash colour on the spectators, and everyone follows suit.
Special programmes are organised for Holla Mohalla. Stories and songs about the life, valour and wisdom of the ten Sikh gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh, are told and recited.
Music, dance and poetry programmes and competitions are held at many venues. A highlight of the last day of the festival is the procession through the important gurudwaras in town.
Holla Mohalla, while being an occasion to rejoice, is also a time to restore faith in the Khalsa Panth and rededicate oneself to the service of the community. Everyone, irrespective of their social standing, involves themselves in kar seva - manual labour, like helping in the langars, or public kitchens, cleaning the gurudwaras, and washing dishes.
The festival is celebrated grandly at Anandpur Sahib. Thousands of people visit the shrine to participate in prayers. Holla Mohalla is a reminder that enjoyment of life should go hand in hand with the responsibilities to society and constant effort to improve oneself and contribute to helping others and bettering life for others.